’We have noticed the changes over time,’ says partner

In January 2024, global law firm Norton Rose Fulbright invited insurtech startups to apply to its Insurathon competition.

Now in its seventh year, Insurathon supports startup and scaleup technology businesses pursuing technological innovation in the insurance industry.

Applicants who are selected as finalists will compete for a £50,000 prize – this includes £25,000 of free UK legal and regulatory advice from its lawyers within the law firm as well as a potential equity investment of £25,000.

The deadline for entries is 5 March 2024. This year’s finalists will be announced on 8 March and the final will take place on 15 March.

60 seconds with Nicholas Berry

Nicholas Berry_Norton Rose Fulbright

Nicholas Berry

Speaking about the themes that the law firm looks out for, Nicholas Berry, corporate insurance partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, told Insurance Times: “The themes that we look for don’t change, but as we approach our seventh event, we have noticed the changes over time in the startup environment and business models as innovation reacts to wider economic trends.”

The very first Insurathon was held back in 2017, with startups competing for a prize fund of £25,000 of free advice.

Berry said: “We didn’t really know if anyone would apply for the pitch event but were delighted to receive some really impressive submissions.”

For example, drone insurtech Flock was the winner that year and Nexus Mutual, a blockchain-enabled peer-to-peer platform designed around a tokenised discretionary mutual structure, also won a prize.

The inaugural event also held a two-day weekend hackathon with a insurance legal services theme.

More than 20 staff across Norton’s London, Newcastle, Sydney, Munich and Amsterdam offices took part in the event.

These staff members were joined by approximately 20 coders from King’s College London (KCL) and the university’s student technology society to work together to develop new products and services, as well as put together a business case.

“We eventually developed one of the concepts from the hackathon into a prototype database, which is still in use at the firm today,” Berry said.

Emerging technology

He explained that the law firm it built out is programme as it could “see there was an increasing focus on fintech and insurtech”.

Berry continued: “We wanted an event that supported this both from an internal Norton Rose Fulbright perspective and, even more importantly, benefited all the startups, which were then entering the insurance market on the back of emerging technologies like blockchain.”

In Insurathon 2019, the law firm decided to take it one step further and started to award a £25,000 equity cheque in addition to the £25,000 free legal advice.

Berry added: “It has been great to support these businesses – such as former winners Supercede, Anansi and ARMD.

“Our insurance practice is tier one ranked and supporting the sector is very important to the firm as we are a part of that sector too.

“We’d encourage any founder to apply as all participants get access to a fantastic team of lawyers, including regulatory, intellectual property, data protection and other specialists on the day and they are usually able to answer pressing questions founders may have on the day itself.”